Lovet Lahai escaped fighting in Sierra Leone with her mother, Jeneba, and her sister, Juliet. Their mother, terrified of losing her daughters, tied them to each other so they would not be parted on the journey.
So that's how we have to keep holding, we have to keep calling. Mum will call, you respond; you call your sister, she responds and then that's how, even if the rope is cut, we have to keep calling. If you don't answer, we stop straight away. Something is wrong.... We don't want to separate any more
They spent 15 precarious years in a various refugee camps. At any time, they might be thrown into a truck and moved to another camp. Anyone protecting an older person was forced to trek on foot. Jeneba kept her daughters close for safety.
I couldn't go to school, because my mum scared, because so many girls lost their lives and a lot of horrible things happened. Somebody could just get missing, never know where they are, so that's it. That's camp.
They were often hungry. The United Nations provided 1kg of Bulgur wheat per person a month and it was never enough.
Not just hungry, some days we'd go without food. Some days we have to go with just potato, but even that one is a bit hard. Some days we go to bed without food.
Now safe in Australia with her husband, Isaiah, Lovet hates it when her children waste food.
Reproduced courtesy of Lovet Lahai
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Reviewed 24 April 2023